Coretta Scott King April 27, 1927 to January 30, 2006
Remembered as “the First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement” Coretta Scott King was not only the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but a leader in her own right. From the start of the movement King made an effort to include more women in positions of power and to simply take part in the development of the country for the better. After the assassination of her husband in 1958, King became the de-facto leader where she expanded the demands of the Civil Rights movement to include LGBT rights. She is also the responsible for making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. She used her own inspirations to ensure that her husband's memory would live on as a cause for improvement within the United States. She was a pacifist and often used her platform to advocate for world peace, and during the Vietnam War, she advocated for its end.
George Takei April 20, 1937 to Present
Best known for his role in the hit TV Series Star Trek, Takei has become a more active voice for social movements in the last two decades. During his long and rewarding career as an actor Takei kept his sexuality private and only revealed it to the public in 2005. From then on, he used his notoriety to fight for LGBT rights and condemned racism in the United States. Over the last decade he has used every opportunity to expose injustices to the LGBT community. This includes but is not limited to posting funny quips on Twitter directed at the last administration to highlight a misdeed. In this regard, Takei has served the community as an activist that people could put their trust behind earning him many awards for his activism including the LGBT Humanist Award.
Garry Kasparov April 13, 1963 to Present
Grandmaster Kasparov is better known in the United States amongst chess players for his tactical skills and knowledge of this ancient and well-known game among the global community. However, having lived through the end of the USSR and the rise of its current political regime under Vladimir Putin, Kasparov has had concerns with the political nature of his native Russia since his youth. He became disillusioned with the Communist party that had ruled his nation since 1922 (the 1917 government being more of a transitional government) at the age of thirteen when he had traveled to Paris for an international chess competition. This trip gave him a shock about how different nations granted their citizens political freedoms, such as freedom of speech and other liberties that his own at the time did not grant, not to mention past atrocities under Stalin. Kasparov is still acting as a political advocate for his fellow countrymen and for better global relations between the nations. He has participated in many demonstrations that included the likes of Alexey Navalny and Yevgeniya Chirikova. In 2011 he was made chairmen of The Human Rights Foundation, using his position to not only point out the wrongs of his native Russia but her close allies that have also committed human rights violations. His book Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped (2015) is one of his many writings on his political ideologies and concerns.
An environmental activist who lived through the trials and tribulations of the Second World War as a Canadian citizen starting in 1942. He and his family were sent to a concentration camp in Slocan in British Columbia with his father being sent to the labor camp Solsqua. They stayed in the camp till the end of the war in 1945. It was during his time that he gained his appreciation for nature and the dependent relationship humans have with it. His main mode of communicating his ideals and activism is through radio and television programs that explain the science behind the importance of conservation. Much of his work has reached the ears of many concerned people around the world while also explaining his findings in a clear and precise manner that the everyday individual can understand.
Cesar Chavez March 31, 1922 to April 23, 1993
One of the most famous political activists of the twentieth century Cesar Chavez is best known for securing the rights of farmers who for the longest time were not been paid properly and who were housed in serfdom like conditions. He was successful in his work because he had seen the inequality of the migrant farmer from his own perspective and was able to rally supporters through means of peaceful protests. An avid speaker against the Bracero Program that he saw as harmful to the rights of migrant farmers. His work forced growers to make several concessions to their workforce.
Chaz Bono March 4, 1969 to Present
Musician and gay rights activist, Chaz Bono is most famous for the documentary Becoming Chaz (2011) and his moderately successful band Ceremony. However, Mr. Bono is best known as being a public speaker fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community. He is a transgender man whose transition (process 2008-2010) became the topic of discussion in the United States and around the world. During an interview he claimed that he did not have his primary sex organs replaced. While not a major controversy it was a surprise for all those who were invested in his story. Bono’s activism work includes close ties with GLAAD and The Advocate.
Frederick Douglass February 1, 1818 - February 20, 1895
Most famous for his autobiography Douglass has given readers, students, and historians a look at what life as a slave was like during slavery’s end in the United States. His story is one of endurance and to many is seen as an important part of American history with the determination of one man showing that freedom is worth fighting for no matter the opposition. Before gaining his freedom in 1830, Douglass learned how to read from a combination of determination and cunning. However, he did not hoard what he learned, but would often teach others exposing others to possibilities. After gaining his freedom Douglass would spend his life advocating the rights for Black Americans and for women as well.
Alice Walker February 9, 1944 - Present
The Pulitzer Prize winning author behind the world renown book The Color Purple (1982) told the story of an African American woman dealing with the issues of both racism and patriarchal culture within African American communities. She started her career as an activist at Spelman College where she met her mentor Howard Zinn who is best known for his activism during the Civil Rights movement. Through her capacity as an author, she became a leader in the Black Arts movement. Walker has dedicated her life to boast social justice and activism through both her writings and time.
Leymah Gbowee February 1, 1972 to Present
A peace and women’s rights activist Gbowee is best known for leading the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that is said to have brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Gbowee’s focus was to better her nation and for the betterment of women. She has worked alongside Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for this goal. During the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996) she faced the ravages of war at a young age and from this experience she would join UNICEF to become a social worker to aid those with the trauma of war. For her work she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.